To Baby or Not To Baby


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Dear Hoopers,
My husband and I are newly married (6 months ago), and we desperately want to start working on having kids, but we are not financially stable so I have serious reservations about starting to try. Some backstory: my husband and I both have demanding careers and my income will exponentially increase in about a year and a half, whereas his income should be stable. Over the last year, my husband has loaned his mother about $30,000 after she was fired from a few high income jobs for unclear reasons (with very little motivation on her part over the last year to increase her flexibility in job choices to get back in the workforce for her own financial stability and to pay us back). In other words, she makes a lot of money when she does work but when she looks for jobs she has so many requirements including staying close to family that her options become limited if not non-existent.

We also had a more expensive wedding than we had planned and ultimately we are 30K in the hole for the last 6 months despite steadily working at trying to pay it off. My husband says he has some of the funds to pay but has had issues with mobilizing those funds (not to mention that he is nervous about possibly having to bail out his mother again). His mom is currently working and has plans to pay us back, but I am not holding my breath. I understand that he wants to help out his mother in her time of need, but enough is enough, and the only debt I’ve ever had before this year was from medical school loans. In any case, I am super stressed about being in $30k credit card debt and the thought of having a baby seems financially irresponsible and a bit terrifying given how expensive it can be. My husband and I have talked long and hard about what we would do if she was in need and while we refuse to help her more, I’m honestly not sure if he could stick with that plan, in part because we really don’t want her living with us.

That said, I am a huge planner and it would in my best interest career-wise to get pregnant in the next several months to both avoid radiation exposure to the baby and to deliver prior to going for job interviews a year from now… what should I do? Should I put blind faith in everything working out, knowing it will be fixed in 1.5 years regardless when I have an increase in income? Or do I put my fertility on Hold for a while longer in the interest of financial Stability? I always wanted a little nest egg prior to getting pregnant- or at least emergency funds- but we don’t have even that. We want 3 kids and we want to spread them out and avoid advanced maternal age for at least two of three so I am in crisis about what to do. My husband and I are honestly pretty bitter and upset with his mother for dragging us in the mud with her and preventing us from having kids when the timing was otherwise right. Thank you for your help.
Sincerely,
-To Baby or Not To Baby

Dear To Baby or Not To Baby,
Babies are big beautiful decisions. The decision on whether or not to have children is an intensely personal one, as is the timing. While some may arrive at the conclusion they are ready to enter parenthood, the question of financial readiness will still be a lead topic for most. But if you’re looking for the perfect timing to have a baby, there isn’t one.

Financial planning websites like Mint.com and LearnVest.com, and courses like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, are wonderful ways to be able to get a better grasp on your finances and resourcefully plan for your future and family. But with that said, you can’t form a budget if there is a chance your husband may be inclined to bail out his mother with a big chunk of unexpected change. I strongly suggest discussing this concern with your husband and setting clear boundaries. I would also discuss the idea of a repayment plan from your mother-in-law. It may be a hard conversation, but if the terms were for her to pay you back, now seems like a good time to set some expectations. Don’t fool yourself. You and your husband allowed her to pull you into the mud and you are responsible for pulling yourselves out.


But if you’re looking for the perfect timing to have a baby, there isn’t one.

-Kate

In the meantime, find ways to start actively paying off debt so you feel more prepared when your baby arrives and even more excited when the increased salary comes. Also, you should slow the roll on credit card spending. If budgeting and saving is a real concern of yours then it will take financial and social sacrifice. I guarantee you, your baby is worth every penny saved or applied to paying off debt. Lastly, stress is the enemy when trying to make a baby. So whatever you decide moving forward, know that your baby is made with love. I encourage you to be in a healthy physical and mental place as you begin this journey. Good luck!
-Kate

Dear To Baby or Not To Baby,
You and your husband have so much on your plate right now! Finishing medical school/residency and navigating the first year of marriage is plenty to process through on its own. The challenge of your mother-in-law’s financial mismanagement and planning for your personal and professional future puts extra pressure on you. It all feels like too much as I hear you talk through the stress you are facing and the forward-facing pressure you are putting on yourself. It sounds as though financial stress and emotional stress are strongly intertwined and I can’t tell which one is taking the larger toll on you.

Financially, you are right to be thoughtful and planful about having children. The average cost of a raising a child can be more than 12K per year, depending on location and lifestyle choices, which can also multiply quickly if issues occur. Planning ahead can help you and your husband be prepared. I would encourage you to speak with a financial planner to help you analyze your current financial status, your expected future income, and the financial burden of a baby. A planner should also be able to assist you in establishing a reasonable budget to keep your expenses in the right place, in-laws included.


I would encourage you to give yourself time to process the emotional issues going on too.

-Dr. Ryan

Emotionally, it feels like you’re in a simmering tea pot right now. So much going on and so much pressure on you can be overwhelming. While finances and timing are a big part of this equation, I would encourage you to give yourself time to process the emotional issues going on too. The first year of marriage is often one of the hardest and your current workload sounds pretty heavy.

You should allow yourself to be in the right mind space when you pursue motherhood. I’m not saying that in an effort to put pressure on you but just as an encouragement for self-care. You and your husband will become parents when the timing is right and that is something only you and he can decide. Take some time and space to think through this decision and come to peace on what’s best for you.
-Dr. Ryan